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Listen to a clip of Lorrie singing "Hoy Hoy"
As pre-teens, Lorrie and Larry Collins, the Collins Kids, appeared regularly on Town Hall Party, a weekly 1950s-era Los Angeles television show hosted by country star Tex Ritter. Lorrie would belt out rock & roll numbers with the authority and audacity of someone twice her age while her younger brother would play the double-neck Mosrite guitar with a manic energy only equaled by his precocious talent. Born into a family of Oklahoma dairy farmers, their parents sold the farm and moved to California so the kids could pursue their show business destinies. Besides Town Hall Party, the Collins Kids appeared on national TV shows like Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen and toured with stars like Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Lorrie's highly publicized romance with Ricky Nelson thrust her briefly into the spotlight but her subsequent marriage to a much older man, while still a teen, pretty much ended the duo's careers. By 1962, the duo had stopped recording; Lorrie concentrated on motherhood and Larry turned his skills to songwriting (he wrote the hit "Delta Dawn" and has been nominated for several songwriting awards, including the Grammy). Thirty years later, they made an enormously successful appearance at the 1993 Hemsby Rockabilly Festival in England and the Collins Kids have been entertaining their legions of fans, including rockers like Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw, ever since.
Listen to a clip from Wanda's "Mean Mean Man"
Luridly but lovingly described by music writer Nick Tosches as "simply and without contest, the greatest menstruating rock 'n roll singer whom the world has ever known," Wanda Jackson has been rocking the socks off her fans in the U.S. and abroad since the early 1950s. A native of Oklahoma, Wanda's talents were encouraged and nurtured by the likes of country singing legend Hank Thompson and later Elvis himself. She has recorded for both Decca and Capitol Records and has been extremely popular overseas with hit records and sell-out performances in places as far-flung as Japan, Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria. Wanda has been nominated for the Grammy Award twice as the best performing female singer and has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In all, she has released over 50 albums worldwide. Recently, Bear Family Records of Germany released her first box set, Right or Wrong, which has brought her a whole new audience of young fans. After a life of hard living, Wanda became a devout Christian and also performs gospel music. She lives happily with her husband/manager, Wendell Goodman, in Oklahoma City.
Listen to a clip from Brenda Lee's "Sweet Nothin's"
Brenda Lee, whom John Lennon said had "the greatest rock 'n roll voice of them all," was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in the charity ward of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Her father was killed in a construction accident in 1953 and, at an early age, the tiny singer with the big voice became the major source of financial support for the struggling Tarpley family. Her talents were soon discovered by Red Foley of the Ozark Jubilee TV show and thus began a career in the music business that has spanned 45 years and put her on the bill with virtually every major pop act of the 20th century, including Elvis Presley and the Beatles. She is a four-time Grammy nominee, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the winner of four awards from the National Association of Record Manufacturers. Brenda has served on the Country Music Association board of directors and is presently on the board of governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). She and her husband/manager Ronnie Shacklett have been married for 37 years and her autobiography, Little Miss Dynamite: The Life and Times of Brenda Lee, has been published by Hyperion Books.
Hear a clip from Janis Martin's "Two Long Years"
Janis Martin, born in rural Virginia in 1940, showed an early interest in music, won numerous talent contests and, at age 11, began her career as a member of the WDVA Barndance in Danville, Virginia. Soon after, she was invited to become a regular member of the Old Dominion Barndance in Richmond, one of the largest shows at the time. After recording a demo with two local songwriters, she was signed to a contract with RCA. But it was her self-penned single, "Drugstore Rock And Roll," which made the big impact, selling over 750,000 copies. Her success did not go unnoticed by fellow RCA artist Elvis Presley, who gave Janis his permission to use the title "The Female Elvis." Janis went on to appear on The Tonight Show, American Bandstand, Ozark Jubilee and Dave Garroway's Today Show. She traveled in the U.S. and overseas, making appearances on TV, radio and stage with artists like Hank Snow, Faron Young, Porter Waggoner, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves and Carl Perkins. She played the Grand Old Opry and was voted the "Most Promising Female Artist of 1956" by Billboard. Motherhood and two marriages that ended in divorce disrupted her career but, in the late 1970s, a resurgence of interest in rockabilly brought her back to live performing. Now, in her sixties, she is embarking on a new phase of her career, devoting herself to her beloved music full-time.
Hear a clip of "Honky Tonkin'"
The Maddox family migrated from Boaz, Alabama to California during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Along their trek West they took jobs as fruit pickers, traveling around to follow the local harvests. When the family settled in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a furniture company sponsored their band on the radio every morning. The group gained immense popularity through the 1930s, performing on radio shows and at honky-tonks across the state. But in 1941, the Maddox brothers were drafted into the service to fight WWII, and Rose was left behind without work. When the brothers returned in 1946, the Maddox Brothers & Rose went into full swing. They were most famous for their outlandish wardrobes, designed by Nathan Turk who outfitted cowboy movie cowboys, and showy onstage hijinks. The group disbanded in 1956 after 20 years of performing and recording. In years to come Rose Maddox would be hailed as a key figure in the development of both honky-tonk and rockabilly. After battling numerous health problems, she passed away in 1998.